Robotic surgical joystick

Designing joysticks is one of the biggest challenges when it comes to Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) design. Especially when the task includes programming a robotic arm to perform surgical procedures due to the fact that they require high precision, intuitive use and must function for a long duration of time. 

The design process evolved over a two-year period, in parallel with the progression of the robotic arm’s technology. At each level, new capabilities and functions were added, at which point the design was updated in tandem. 

The joystick design worked through several challenges, buttons and trigger relocations according to affordance and need. The most difficult task was designing one system that suits different hand sizes, yet mimics the end function of the robotic arm: to grip live tissue while using an electromechanical interface.  

Each one of these parameters was examined in depth by using CAD models and embedding hardware components for volume and size verifications. All this took place alongside 3-D printing of the different designs for physical and ergonomic testing of each concept time and again until optimal configuration was obtained.